Program Activities
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Our Alumni
The Southeast Asia Studies Program provides students with an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the nations, states, institutions and peoples of Southeast Asia in the 21st century. The program offers courses in Southeast Asia history, politics, economics, development and security.
Students are attracted to Johns Hopkins SAIS’ unique dual-concentration structure combining international economics and regional expertise. To prepare students for the demanding working environment of Southeast Asia, the Southeast Asia Studies Program offers a rigorous, policy-oriented curriculum, language training in Burmese, Indonesian, Thai and Vietnamese, advice and support for students who are looking for internship opportunities in Washington and the Southeast Asia region, Washington-based fora that examine domestic politics and international relations of Southeast Asian countries, and an unsurpassed global alumni network.
Myanmar President U Thein Sein speaking at SAIS on May 20, 2013 during the first official trip to the United States by a Myanmar head of state in 47 years.
Adrian Stover (M.A. '13) in Vietnam on a SAIS Southeast Asia Studies Language Fellowship over the January inter-session break.
Bao-chiun Jing (M.A. '12) with H.E. Fidel V. Ramos, former president of the Republic of the Philippines, at a SAIS Southeast Asia Studies Wednesday Lunch Seminar
Jatuchatra Chommai (Prem Fellow; M.A. '13) interning at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta (SAIS Southeast Asia Studies Summer Internship Program, 2012).
Alexandra Stuart (M.A. '12) at PT Freeport-McMoRan in West Papua for a summer internship during her M.A. studies.
Ran Hu (M.A. '12) working at HSBC in Bangkok on a SAIS Southeast Asia Studies Summer Internship Fellowship.
H.E. Chaiyong Satjipanon, ambassador of Thailand to the United States, presents a gift contribution to SAIS Thai Club members.
Michael Karnow offers welcoming remarks at a SAIS Philippines Roundtable honoring his father Stanley Karnow (co-sponsored with the U.S.-Philippines Society).
Reception in honor of a delegation of Myanmar parliamentarians during their visit to SAIS.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and SAIS students on SAIS Burmese language fellowships during January inter-session in Myanmar
Aichida Ul-Aflaha (Freeport-McMoRan Fellow; M.A. candidate) in Myanmar on a SAIS Burmese language fellowship.
Myanmar Health Minister Pe Thet Khin led a delegation to Washington for a week-long executive education program organized by SAIS Southeast Asia Studies.
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Program Activities


Roundtables and Fora

The Johns Hopkins SAIS Philippines Roundtable, Burma Study Group, Indochina Roundtable, and the Southeast Asia Studies Wednesday Lunch Seminar offer opportunities for students to interact with diplomats, policymakers and academics concerned with Southeast Asia. In addition, conferences, special lectures, book launches and film screenings introduce students to established regional expertise and cutting edge scholarship. More [11].



Between the first and second year of studies, students may choose to participate in internships of eight weeks duration in Southeast Asia. Internships provide students with the opportunity to combine theory and practice, to gain hands-on experience in a professional field, and to experience the rich and varied dimensions of Southeast Asian societies.


Language Training

Language expertise in Bahasa Indonesian, Burmese, Thai or Vietnamese gives graduates a strong competitive edge. Proficiency in a modern language helps students broaden their regional competency. The program may assist, depending on funding availability, students to secure additional language training in the region during the January inter-sessions in well regarded local academic institutions such as the Alam Bahasa Language School (Yogyakarta), Unity Thai Language School (Bangkok), and the University of Social Sciences and Humanities (Ho Chi Minh City).


Johns Hopkins SAIS-Myanmar Initiatives

More than five decades after closing its center at the University of Rangoon, Johns Hopkins SAIS is rebuilding ties to Myanmar as it emerges from a half century of military rule.


The Asia Democracy Study

The Johns Hopkins SAIS-USKI Asia Democracy Study was a research initiative looking at public opinions on attitudes and behaviors toward democracy and governance in Indonesia, South Korea, the Philippines, and Thailand. The 2011 survey can be found here [12]. More information on the Study can be found here [13].


Southeast Asia Studies Newsletter

Past editions: Winter 2016 [14]Spring 2015 [15]Summer 2013 [16]Fall 2012 [17], Winter-Spring 2012 [18], Fall 2011 [19], Spring 2011 [20], and Fall 2010 [21]




Southeast Asia Studies | MA Academic Requirements (Entering Class 2018-2019)

Learning Goals and Objectives [22]

MA students must complete 64 credits and all degree requirements in order to graduate.

Students who are approved for a Dual Degree program or with Advanced Standing only need to complete 48 credits or 56 credits as determined by Academic Affairs, but still must fulfill all degree requirements.


Southeast Asia Studies Concentration

MA students concentrating in South Asia Studies must complete 24 credits of applicable coursework and a program capstone. 16 credits must be Southeast Asia Studies courses. The remaining 8 credits must be from one or more of the programs below:

  • Asian Studies
  • China Studies
  • Japan Studies
  • Korea Studies
  • South Asia Studies

Southeast Asia Studies concentrators must complete one of the following capstones:

  • Southeast Asia Oral Exam. The exam is designed to test substantive knowledge and oral communication skills covering Southeast Asia politics, economics, history and their impact on international relations. The one-hour exam will be administered by the Program Director, Associate Program Director and others as designated by the program.
  • MA Oral Exam (to compete for honors—if eligible)

International Economics Concentration

MA students must complete a concentration in International Economics (16 credits). The four required courses are:

  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics (pre-requisite or concurrent: Microeconomics)
  • International Trade Theory (pre-requisite: Microeconomics)
  • International Monetary Theory (pre-requisite: Macroeconomics)

If a student is waived [23] from a required course(s), the student must take a replacement International Economics course(s) to fulfill the concentration requirement. Students who received the HNC Certificate in Chinese and American Studies may use one Level 2 Economics course as a replacement course, but this does not carry any credit value.

Students who pass the non-credit Microeconomics course in Pre-Term [24] will have this concentration reduced to 12 credits, but still must complete the remaining required International Economics courses (or a replacement course(s) if waiver exam(s) passed).

International Economics GPA Requirement
Students must achieve an International Economics concentration GPA of at least 2.67.

In the standard case, the concentration GPA is the average of the grades in Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, International Trade Theory, and International Monetary Theory.  If a student completed the non-credit Microeconomics course in Pre-Term, the concentration GPA is calculated based on the grades in the remaining required International Economics courses. If one or more of the required courses is waived, the highest grade(s) from any eligible replacement International Economics course(s) is used.

Students who do not meet the minimum International Economics concentration GPA must re-take required courses (or take additional replacement courses if any required course(s) are waived) until the minimum is achieved. The highest grade from any attempt at a required course is used in this calculation.


Quantitative Reasoning Requirement

MA students must fulfill the Quantitative Reasoning Requirement (4 credits). Eligible courses include:

  • Statistical Methods for Business & Economics 
  • Econometrics (pre-requisite: Statistical Methods for Business & Economics)
  • Applied Econometrics (pre-requisite: Econometrics)
  • Macro Econometrics (pre-requisite: Econometrics)
  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • Risk Analysis and Modeling
  • Quantitative Global Economics (pre-requisite: International Monetary Theory)
  • Credit Markets & Credit Risk (pre-requisite: Corporate Finance)

Students may not double-count the same course toward the Quantitative Reasoning requirement and as a replacement International Economics concentration course and vice-versa.

If a student is waived [25] from a Quantitative Reasoning course, the student must take a different course from the list above to fulfill the Quantitative Reasoning requirement.

Students who pass the non-credit Statistical Methods for Business & Economics course in Pre-Term [24] will have fulfilled the Quantitative Reasoning requirement.


Core Requirements

MA students must fulfill two Core requirements. Students may fulfill a Core requirement by passing a for-credit Core course or by passing a non-credit Core exam.

For students concentrating in Southeast Asia Studies, one of the Core requirements must be:

  • Comparative Politics

This must be completed prior to the start of the third semester.

The second Core requirement may be one of:
  • American Foreign Policy Since WWII
  • Evolution of the International System
  • Theories of International Relations

Students may not take a Core exam in the semester in which they plan to graduate. If Core requirements are not completed before the start of a student’s final semester, the student no longer has the option of completing the exam and must enroll in the Core course(s) for credit.


Language Proficiency

MA students must pass exams to demonstrate proficiency in a non-native language taught at SAIS. Students enroll in non-credit language courses to prepare for the proficiency exam.

South Asia Studies concentrators are required to demonstrate proficiency in Burmese, Indonesian, Thai or Vietnamese. Native speakers of Burmese, Indonesian, Thai or Vietnamese must demonstrate proficiency in any other language taught at SAIS, which can include English. Native speakers of a Southeast Asian language are encouraged to pursue proficiency in a different Southeast Asian language.

All non-native English speakers are required to pass an English placement exam upon entering the school, even if not using English for proficiency, and may be required to take additional English language coursework.


Electives, Minor, and Specializations

Beyond the requirements, MA students may have room in their degree for electives, a minor, and/or a specialization(s).

Students may pursue an optional minor in any policy/regional area [26] other than General International Relations.

Students may pursue an optional specialization(s) in five areas International Economics [27], the International Relations of Asia [28], or Emerging Markets [29].


Program Requirements by Academic Year

Entering Class 2017-2018 [30]
Entering Class 2016-2017 [31]
Entering Class 2015-2016 [32]
Entering Class 2014-2015 [33]
Entering Class 2013-2014 [34]
Entering Class 2012-2013 [35]
Entering Class 2011-2012 [36]
Entering Class 2010-2011 [37]
Entering Class 2009-2010 [38]


Southeast Asia Minor Requirements:

  • 3 Southeast Asia Studies (or cross-listed) courses (12 credits)
  • 2 semesters of a Southeast Asia language (Burmese, Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese) or proficiency. Native Southeast Asia language speakers must pursue a minimum of 2 semesters of a Southeast Asia language other than their own.

General Minor Requirements:

  • MA students may pursue an optional minor in a policy or regional program. A student cannot pursue a minor in General IR or International Economics, but can pursue a Specialization in International Economics [39]
  • A student can have only one minor and can declare a minor at any time prior to graduation.
  • Students do not receive bidding priority for a minor.
  • All minors require three courses. Some minors require a specific course(s) and/or language proficiency.
  • A student may use a maximum of one applicable cross-listed course (4 credits) toward both a minor AND concentration requirements. In the IR or Asia concentrations, the cross-listed course must be from the primary concentration area and not from the 2 additional required courses in the other IR or Asia areas.


Our Alumni


Funding and Alumni Network

A strong network of funding sources coupled with a global alumni network support educational and employment opportunities for students.  Fellowships include the C.V. Starr Fellowship; the Prem Fellowship for Thai Studies; the Freeport McMoRan Fellowship for Indonesians; the Tran Thi Quynh Hoa Fellowship for Vietnamese; the USINDO-SAIS  Edward E. Masters Fellowship Program for Indonesian foreign service officers; the Philip W. Thayer Fellowship (with major funding from the Henry Luce Foundation) for students and visiting scholars from Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam, including junior faculty members from government training academies; and the Southeast Asia Studies Alumni & Friends Fellowship. Additionally, the Southeast Asia Studies Program initiated a joint program with the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins SAIS and Chung Ang University to provide full tuition for one Burmese Foreign Service officer for one year at the school followed by one year at a Korean graduate school.

Graduate Profiles

Frederic Neumann (Class of 2005) is the senior economist at HSBC in Hong Kong, responsible for the Asia region. Originally from Luxembourg, Fred has taught courses on macroeconomics and Asia and was a consultant for the World Bank and various governments.

Shari Knoerzer (Class of 2002) works for Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold as director of social responsibility and community development - Asia/Africa. Her first five years at Freeport were spent in Indonesia.

Edison Sian (Class of 2004) is in the Philippines setting up a social enterprise to target the healthcare needs of the poorest communities. His goal is establishing micro-clinics throughout the archipelago to combat the five main causes of death in over 70% of the population.

Bruce Schulman (Class of 1998) funded the Paul D. Wolfowitz Fellowship Prize in Southeast Asia Studies in honor of Ambassador Paul D. Wolfowitz, former dean of Johns Hopkins SAIS, to recognize the second-year Southeast Asia Studies MA student with the highest GPA. Prize recipients: Wallis Yu (2011), Sean Creehan (2012), Elizabeth Vish (2013), Daniel Greenland (2014), and Bartholomew Thanhauser (2015).


Contact Us

Karl D. Jackson
C.V. Starr Distinguished Professor of Southeast Asia Studies
kdjackson@jhu.edu [42]
Rome Building, Office 619

William M. Wise
Practitioner-in-Residence, Southeast Asia Studies
wwise2@jhu.edu [43]
Rome Building, Office 621

Address & Phone

Southeast Asia Studies
1619 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20036

(202) 663-7721